New research over a 28-year follow-up period finds significant evidence that frequent social contact at the age of 60 can lower the risk of developing dementia later on. Some studies have suggested that levels of social interaction can predict cognitive decline and even dementia, while others have shown that group socializing can prevent the harmful effects of aging on memory. Many longitudinal studies have found an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline in people with a smaller social network or less frequent social contact. However, the authors note, most of these studies had a follow-up period of fewer than 4 years. Furthermore, a lot of these observational findings could be biased by reverse causation, which means that social isolation may be an effect rather than a cause of dementia. New research examines the link between social contact and dementia in more depth. Andrew Sommerlad, Ph.D., from the Division of Psychiatry at University College London (UCL), in the United Kingdom, is the first and corresponding author of the new study. We've found that social contact in middle age and late life appears to lower the risk of dementia. This finding could feed into strategies to reduce everyone's risk of developing dementia, adding yet another reason to promote connected communities and find ways to reduce isolation and loneliness.", says Andrew Sommerlad, Ph.D.